White Sox

Frank Thomas joins White Sox star-studded sendoff for Hawk Harrelson and says 'you've got to see the Hawk Walk'


Frank Thomas joins White Sox star-studded sendoff for Hawk Harrelson and says 'you've got to see the Hawk Walk'

The star-studded Hawk Harrelson sendoff added the greatest hitter in White Sox history Sunday.

Frank Thomas spent a day in the booth with the legendary broadcaster, who’s in his final year as the voice of the South Siders, and he took some time before the game to reflect on what Harrelson meant to him during his playing days.

You might not think a broadcaster would have too much impact on a Hall-of-Fame career, but this is the man who dubbed Thomas “The Big Hurt.” And, as Thomas recalled, he did a lot more than that.

“This man put a nickname on me that pretty much made who I was over the years,” Thomas said. “Hawk and I have always had a great relationship. At times, (like a) father-son (relationship) because baseball is a lonely sport sometimes. When you’re doing well, everybody wants to talk to you. When you’re not doing well, no one has answers. Hawk always had answers.

“When I went through a little struggle at times, he always would pull me to the side and say, ‘I want you to do something here, something there, try this and that.’ Just something to key off of. Pretty much it worked, a lot. I was grateful for that.”

Harrelson has obviously loomed large as a presence for this organization for decades, in a variety of roles. As another towering figure in South Side baseball history, Thomas knows how much he’s meant to the team, the fans and the players — and he echoed some other former White Sox players in saying that Harrelson deserves to join him in Cooperstown.

“If you think about all his roles, from GM to Jerry (Reinsdorf)’s right-hand guy to broadcasting for so many years, watching the game on a day-to-day basis, most people don't see after the game, plane flights and everything. Hawk was always one of the guys,” Thomas said. “We’d have a beer, guys were struggling, whatever, he’d sit down by those guys and say hello and talk to them and tell them what he sees and it really helped.

“Having him around and being that broadcaster he is, he’s definitely a Hall-of-Fame broadcaster. Hopefully he will get to the Hall of Fame soon because he deserves it. His calls are one of a kind, and when you get people across the country making those same calls, it tells you something about the success you’ve had as a broadcaster. I’m happy to be here on one of his final broadcasts.”

White Sox fans have long lists of Hawk-isms and Hawk moments, enough to sustain comedic impressions for the rest of time, and Thomas is no exception.

One of his favorite Hawk moments? The “Hawk Walk.”

The Hawk Walk?

“I’ve got a lot of Hawk stories,” Thomas said. “I think watching him play golf and watching him do the Hawk Walk, that’s something special. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it. You’ve got to see the Hawk Walk. It changed my life.

“He hit a ball 275 (yards), scalding hot, right down the middle. He just broke it down. Just got his little neck thing (going) and he just starts walking like a peacock. Calls it the Hawk Walk. That’s something special.”

Can we get that for Hawk Day on Sept. 2? Mercy.

White Sox being linked to Nomar Mazara trade talks with Rangers

White Sox being linked to Nomar Mazara trade talks with Rangers

The White Sox have two major needs in their lineup: a left-handed bat and a right fielder. They are reportedly in trade talks to fill both holes with one player.

Jim Bowden first reported that the White Sox are in trade talks with the Texas Rangers for outfielder Nomar Mazara. Others have since confirmed the report. There appears to be some real smoke with this one.

Working with the premise that these trade talks are happening, let’s take a look at what Mazara would bring to the White Sox.

For starters, he plays right field and is a left-handed bat. The White Sox don’t have much in the way of left-handers in the lineup. Zack Collins is a lefty, but his place in the lineup is far from secure. After that it’s switch-hitters Yoan Moncada, Leury Garcia and now Yasmani Grandal. Mazara is a lefty who had an .844 OPS against right-handers last season.

On top of that, he’s 24 years old so that part lines up with what the White Sox are trying to build in terms of having young pieces on the roster. Mazara debuted in 2016 so he hits free agency after 2021.

Mazara is a below average defender according to defensive metrics and his offensive numbers don’t stand out. Considering his age, it’s plausible to think he gets better though.

He has a career .754 OPS, including a career-best .786 OPS last season. Mazara hit .268/.318/.469 last year in 116 games. That’s decent production, but not eye-popping.

Mazara hit exactly 20 home runs in each of his first three seasons and then hit 19 last season (albeit in less playing time). He also blasted a mammoth 505-foot home run off of Reynaldo Lopez on June 22.

He mashed against the White Sox last year with three home runs in three games. Mazara has a 1.016 OPS against the White Sox in 91 plate appearances. Maybe the White Sox have been impressed and want to bring him on board.

Maybe Mazara is a change-of-scenery candidate that can breakthrough after leaving Texas. He also likely wouldn’t cost the White Sox one of their untouchable prospects like Andrew Vaughn, for example. It wouldn’t be a show-stopping move from the White Sox, but it would fill two holes while also having some upside.

The Rangers have an excess of outfielders and the White Sox are looking for one. It’s a logical move that has been discussed here before. The Cardinals are in the same boat as the White Sox, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted on Tuesday, so there could be competition for Mazara.

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White Sox reportedly interested in reliever Craig Stammen

White Sox reportedly interested in reliever Craig Stammen

For all the talk of the White Sox getting starting pitching help this winter, talk of the bullpen has been secondary.

Here’s a rumor connecting the White Sox to right-hander Craig Stammen.

Stammen has been with the San Diego Padres the last three years and was effective in his tenure in Southern California. He had a 3.06 ERA in 209 appearances with 235 strikeouts, 60 walks and 213 hits allowed. Last season was a similarly effective 3.29 ERA with 73 strikeouts, 15 walks and 80 hits allowed in 82 innings.

Stammen’s resume has been solid since moving from a starting role to the bullpen full-time in 2012 with the Washington Nationals. He has a 2.93 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in his career as a reliever.

On paper, he would be a solid addition to the bullpen. The interesting thing about the rumor is that Stammen will turn 36 in spring training. He hasn’t shown any signs of declining yet, but he doesn’t line up with the White Sox long-term view of their contention window. That said, bullpens turnover quickly so it’s not entirely reasonable to plan a bullpen for three years from now.

The top three right-handers in the 2019 White Sox bullpen in terms of appearances were Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera and Evan Marshall. Colome was solid as the team’s closer and Marshall was surprisingly effective, but Herrera struggled.

Herrera was last year’s big free-agent signing for the bullpen and is under contract for $8,500,000 in 2020. He had a 6.14 ERA and batters hit .288 against him in 51.1 innings last season.

Stammen could be what the White Sox were hoping Herrera would be when they signed him last year. He’s older, but has a better track record. It wouldn’t be a flashy high-priced pitcher to add to the starting rotation, but you can never have enough bullpen help.

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